Shrub or small tree. From East Cape south to Stewart Island. Mainly in the mountains (Salmon 1980).
Best 1907 says "the kōtara is a tree only found on the high range at Maungapohatu in this district. It has a serrated leaf, hence its Native name" . Uses recorded as below.
Best 1942 questions whether kōtara is O. ilicifolia, and suggests the evidence is for O. cunninghamii = O. rani , (though without saying why). Best's observations recorded in the 1908 article accord with O. ilicifolia, and it has been collected on Maungapohatu (Cranwell & Moore 1931). O. rani is widespread at lower altitudes.
Musky scent. Fragrant leaves used to scent toilet oils, neck sachets, etc. (Best 1907)
Young specimens sometimes transplanted into village cultivation grounds (Best 1907).